Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A little update

I managed to take a day off on Sunday for a mini-weekend. We all went to a very nice place near a lake (Bar Miradoe de Ardalesfor lunch and stuffed ourselves stupid. Then we all came home with headaches from too much booze. Totally worth it of course - the food was amazing. 

A rather large cabbage leaf growing in my studio... (A work in progress)
I then spent Monday and Tuesday expanding my friendship with this freaky leaf. Monday I worked on the lighter leaf undulations on the left side. I was bored with the black and needed to do something a little more obsessive in nature. I am generally feeling obsessive this week, and for the first time in ages, I am not taking it out on my food or my finger nails. Tuesday I went back to the dark side.

A 'Cannon Ball Cabbage' leaf (Brassicaceae) - work in progress
Close up on the cabbage leaf (Brassicaceae) - a work in progress

The good news is that I am pretty pleased with how this leaf is developing. I feel it looks otherworldly and that is just how I wanted it to look. I wanted to see if I could do a 'Sci-fi Leaf' after I experimented with my Dr. Who Beans. I feel that this is going to be my new 'collection' of work. All ethnobotany has taken a back seat in the Inky Leaves Studio as I hover between astral planes. 

Dr. Who Beans (Phaseolus sp.)

Today I am moving onto the pineapple to take a break from this monstrosity. I entered a spot of bother with this black background as there is a bit of tonal variation in it and I still don't know how to depict it. It gets lighter on the left you see and added to this, I did want my black background to look like a black ground if that makes sense?! I want it look like an empty 'void'. I find a lot of the older paintings with black backgrounds look fuller rather than emptier. I want emptiness. Not sure if that's what I am going to achieve, so it's time to dream and ponder as I tackle the pineapple. I definitely need to think the lighter bits through. I am currently grappling with the idea of cross hatching like Rembrandt, but I can't tell if this will work until I have completed the leaf. 
Rembrandt, The Shell, Etching


  1. Delight of feathery veins, watercolour
    Illustrations emulating life, divine creation,
    Intimate plant anatomy, delicate petiole,
    Leafy blades, nature’s oxygen-producing
    Engines, photosynthesis, reveling in broad
    Summer sunlight, thin, translucent biotanical
    Life, merging of art-science, welling heart,
    Discerning eyes, and steady of hands,
    Artistry of Inky Leaves.

    Love your paintings,

    1. Thanks Fran - fabulous poem. So lovely of you to write that.

  2. Hi Jess

    While I liked your skill with the cabbage leaf on your previous post, I was not sure about your aim with the black ground. Having now seen more darkness on the right and your beans, I have little doubt that it will work.
    Fuller / Emptier, I think your 'Dr Who beans show both. The fullness and depth of the beans give the perspective to the piece which is then enhanced by the black surround. With the limitations of size, that we can see here, you have achieved the 'void', although the black this time seems lighter to the right - clearly the source of illumination for the beans. It looks like you are creating sufficient undulation, vienation and texture with the cabbage to give perspective, which should establish your aim.
    I watch with interest.


    1. It's certainly an adventure! Mum and I had an interesting talk just now about the background thing. She came into my studio and made a claim that I was incredibly lucky as a botanical artist to not have to think about the background. I had never thought about it before, but we are actually very lucky - we don't need to think about it - we leave it blank and that's that. So this is the first time that I have had to really think about it for a long, long time. Mum has to always think about the background and the context of whatever it is she is depicting on her pottery. So it is all a question of giving something it's context.

      We then went on to talk about the white verses the black, you see, to her the white is anti-matter and void, the black is the reverse and much fuller. For me it is the other way around. White to me is much fuller, in fact, I consider the 'emptiest' shade to be grey. A foggy grey. I then wondered if that is because when botanical artists are painting in highlights, the white paper is used. So the background can easily become plant matter and thus non-void.

      Anyway - I am going to do a blog post on this as I think it deserves more thought. I have been looking at the work of Heidi Willis and Margaret Mee, who both give context to their botanical work in extraordinary ways. As far as the beans are concerned - that lighter bit on the right is from the window as it shone on the piece, it isn't really supposed to be like that, bit it will be for the cabbage... Well - we shall see, I still haven't reached a conclusion! LOL!